If you're single and in the market for a reasonably priced credenza, stop scrolling through that DJ/bartender/artist's profile on OKCupid and head to your nearest IKEA outlet. That's how senior citizens in Shanghai are currently meeting potential love interests, according to a story in the Wall Street Journal. Because an IKEA Family Membership card gets you free coffee from the cafeteria, seniors have been using the Swedish store as a venue for meeting romantic partners over a cup of coffee. One of the seniors, 62-year old widow Tang Yingzhuo, says that she comes to IKEA to meet men because she doesn't think it's "appropriate to scope out men at bars, clubs, or karaoke joints."
The unofficial senior dating service is part of a larger trend of Chinese shoppers using retail stores as a venue for informal social gatherings, a phenomenon that the WSJ article refers to as "retailtainment." Anywhere from 70 to 700 senior citizens frequent these weekly coffee dates at the Shanghai store, often not paying for anything else and occasionally getting into altercations with younger customers, which has prompted the managers of the IKEA outlet to up security in the cafeteria. "IKEA would hereby like to inform this group and its organizers: Your behavior is affecting the normal operations of the iKEA cafeteria," one notice at the entrance says.
The seniors insist that they're not a formally organized group, and so far don't plan on finding another location for their informal matchmaking service. Nor should they have to: with all the bitching and moaning we do over how hard it is to meet people, either on or off the Internet, we should take a tip from Yingzhuo and her pals when it comes to dating and start thinking outside the box. Over-40 singles mixer in the firearms and ammunition section of Wal-Mart, anyone?